Football and Sports News

Fremantle Dockers v Western Bulldogs, elimination final, small forwards, Sam Switkowski, Justin Longmuir, praise, fightback

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir paid tribute to his young forwards as they came back from 41 points down to keep their season alive with a win over the Western Bulldogs.

The Dockers became just the third team in more than a decade to fail to score in the opening quarter.

They were only 3 behind in the second period before Michael Walters turned the game around with a free kick in the 21st minute.

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And from there the dockers took control as the smaller forward ships ran riot.

Players such as Walters, Michael Frederick, Sam Switkowski and Lachie Schultz had a big impact on the tournament with midfielders Caleb Serong and Andrew Brayshaw winning.

“I thought Sonny was desperate all night … some of the races he gave, the constant pressure he put on – Freddie was the same. So was Sweeta, Lachie Schultz. They were all desperate,” Longmuir praised.

“(The win) was special.

“The players were very absorbed. It takes a lot of faith, a lot of maturity to do what we did tonight. It takes quite a bit of guts.

For moments like this, we’ve been working on our mental skills for three years since I got here, when you feel like you’re done, but you stick with it and get back to it.

“I am very proud of the players. The faith is there.

Switkowski said it was an “exciting feeling” to get his first win in the final, especially with such a stirring comeback.

“When Sonny got the first goal, that was probably the turning point for us,” he said.

“A little bit of excitement from our side, confidence will rise.

We know we can’t just go into our shells.

“We had to stick with what we were doing — we really had to get away from them. We thought we had a lot in the tank.”

Switkowski said he likes playing as part of a small offensive line.

“We’ve got a good little crew there (small forwards),” he said.

“We feed off each other. Defensive pressure is our thing. All the men brought tonight.

“Our back line was strong … we really relied on them as a front line.”

The Dockers now book a semi-final against Collingwood at the MCG, with another big crowd expected.

On Saturday night, they played in front of their biggest crowd in history – over 59,000.

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